This past year was the first year I took on a Saturday morning teaching role, for both adults and kids. I loved every minute of it and met some amazing people, but also had some eye opening moments about why art education is so important!
When 11-year-old Grace (name changed) first came to my classes, she was shy and quiet and refused to do anything without very specific instructions. If I told her to pick up a brush, she would ask me, “which brush?”. And if I asked her to squeeze out some paint for her sky, she would say, “which colour?”
Now, I hear some of you saying, “That’s exactly how I would be!”. But we teachers expect a level of help needed to get going. What Grace had was a dead fear to make any decision at all – from what to paint to how to paint it. This didn’t seem normal to me for a kid.
Somewhere along the line she has been taught that there is a specific formula, a black-and-white right answer, for everything.
One day I sat Grace down and explained something to her. “You’re the artist!”, I said. “You can do whatever you want! And if you make a mistake, I’m here to help you fix it. But go ahead and have fun!”. Her eyes opened wide and I could almost watch the lightbulb turning on! She gave me a huge grin along with a sigh of relief. Her spirit had been unshackled.
I thought her paintings would be worse for a while as she got her bearings. But I was wrong! Grace’s paintings were immediately wonderful, incredible for an 11-year-old, and most of all – HERS!
Art teaches kids to trust their own decision making.
There are literally hundreds of decisions going into any painting, at any level, whether conscious or sub-conscious. That is hundreds of times that a child (or adult for that matter!) has to trust themselves.
Imagine the confidence that stems from the result!
I will be back teaching painting again this year. Stay tuned for more information on adult and children’s classes, as well as – new! – workshops!
Yours in paint,
In our house, back to school means back to art lessons! Both my girls are old enough this year to join my classes with the other kids – yay! See Miss Maya’s (8 YO) Starry Night interpretation below!